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US legal advice - licensing a download?

Anne Lister 02 Sep 10 - 09:53 AM
Anne Lister 02 Sep 10 - 02:45 PM
Howard Jones 02 Sep 10 - 02:57 PM
Anne Lister 02 Sep 10 - 04:13 PM
DebC 02 Sep 10 - 06:36 PM
Anne Lister 02 Sep 10 - 06:39 PM
DebC 02 Sep 10 - 06:55 PM
Howard Jones 03 Sep 10 - 02:47 AM
Anne Lister 03 Sep 10 - 06:10 AM
DebC 03 Sep 10 - 11:09 AM
Taconicus 03 Sep 10 - 11:50 AM
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Subject: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 09:53 AM

Any US 'Catters know how this works? I've had a request from a record company in the US who want to put a recording of one of my songs out for digital distribution (not me singing, btw, someone else). They've approached me for a licence. I have no idea how I would go about this and I've checked with our main licensing/royalty body PRS for Music and finished up almost as confused as when I started. I am my own publisher, so there's no help if I go to the publisher for advice!
The song has been recorded by people before. Should the company in the US approach Harry Fox, ASCAP or BMI? Or none of them? Clearly iTunes and Amazon in the US are requesting some form of authority for the music to be out there, but what form should it take and can it be a simple written statement from me saying that it's my song but that they have permission to record it (and royalties should come to me in whatever way counts as normal these days)? Over here, apparently, iTunes and Amazon are themselves the licensees and pay royalties, so that's not much help either.
Any help most gratefully received, via PM if it's sensitive stuff.


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 02:45 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 02:57 PM

Are you a member of MCPS as well as PRS? They control the composer's rights for recordings of their works, whereas PRS deal with live performances. This is the UK organisation but it would administer your rights worldwide, although I believe it gets complicated where the US is concerned as there are several performing rights societies to deal with there.

I would suggest you speak to someone at MCPS, rather than PRS. Although the two are in an alliance, they're still separate operations. If I've understood it correctly (which I may not!) then if you've registered your rights as composer in this work with MCPS they would then sort out the licence via one of the US societies.

I've been looking into music copyright for an album my band is about to record, and it seems a nightmare - why on earth do we need three separate organisations? (besides PRS and MCPS, there's also PPL which deals with the record company's and performers' rights in the actual recording)


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 04:13 PM

Howard, I've been a member of MCPS/PRS for a very long time and no, now they're not separate organisations - they call themselves PRS for Music and it's all one, although there are different departments that do different things. And we could start a whole different thread about why there might be three organisations involved in the UK, but that's not my question on this occasion.

I know the UK position on this question. It's the US position I'm asking about, because clearly whatever advice the record company has been getting isn't helping much. In the UK, there is no problem because iTunes and Amazon will be sorting out the royalty collection. It seems murkier in the US, and I'm being asked to issue a licence before anything further can happen - but that doesn't make any sense under our system.

So, again, is there a US 'Catter with knowledge of copyright and digital distribution who can help, please?


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: DebC
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 06:36 PM

When I need to get a license to record a song and the publisher is not represented by Harry Fox, I just use HF's fee structure as a guide and pay the publisher (and in all cases that person id the songwriter themselves) that amount or is foreign currency equivalent.

HF now has a fee structure in place for downloads. Maybe the company can use that fee structure as a guide and pay you directly.

That is what I am doing with all non HF publishers whose works I have recorded.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 06:39 PM

Thanks, Debra ... the company has now brightened up considerably as they have done business with HF before, so we may be on the way to sorting out the confusion. They've asked me for my HFA code - is that HF as in Harry Fox?? Or is there some other mystical significance?


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: DebC
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 06:55 PM

HFA is Harry Fox Assoc. For some weird reason, people assume that EVERY songwriter in the universe is rep'd by Harry Fox. In all the years that I have been paying mech licenses, I used HFA for the first time with "Fond Desire Farewell" and the writers that were rep'd by HFA whose songs I used were Richard Thompson, Ralph Stanley and Ray Davies.

BTW, Anne-just spent a day with Julia lane in Maine. Fred is off on an adventure :-)

Debra


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 02:47 AM

I'm surprised that MCPS can't sort this out for you, since I thought the whole point was that you would be a member of your own national performing rights societies who would deal with their opposite numbers overseas, to avoid you having to deal separately in every country where your music might be performed. However it seems that where the US is concerned things are rather complicated.

If you've managed to find a way to sort it out directly, good luck.


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 06:10 AM

Howard, it was the US record company who were getting confused. It IS a simple enough thing and it's handled reciprocally, but for whatever reason the American company seemed to think they had to create a totally independent process rather than go through their usual channels. So it's not a direct thing for me to sort out, and now they've worked out they can use Harry Fox everything should go smoothly.


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: DebC
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 11:09 AM

Glad you got all sorted, Anne.

Debra


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Subject: RE: US legal advice - licensing a download?
From: Taconicus
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 11:50 AM

I'm an intellectual property attorney, but copyright is not my specialty.

My best advice is to see a copyright attorney about having a license agreement drafted that will give the company a general or limited right to publish and/or distribute your performance of the song and/or its composition (lyrics and music). The license agreement should outline the royalty structure, and what limitations (if any) the company has in duplicating, distributing, and otherwise using your copyrighted material.

It may seem like a big expense to pay an attorney, but you'll probably save (and gain) much more in the future by investing in good legal advice now. Otherwise, if you try to do it yourself, you probably end up giving away your valuable intellectual property, in this case the product of your talent, for... well, for a song.


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